Tuesday, November 23, 2010

The Sarasota Opera House will be alive with the sounds of the world renowned American Spiritual Ensemble.

The American Spiritual Ensemble will perform two concerts on Sunday, December 5 at 1:30pm and 6pm.

The Spiritual as a musical form has a distinct place in this country’s history. “The spirituals are the folk songs of the American negro slaves. And from the spirituals, many sorts of music and art forms grew,” says Dr. McCorvey( who holds an endowed professorship in voice and is director of opera at the University of Kentucky in Lexington, KY). Spirituals were often crafted with hidden or secret meanings, which only the Christian slaves understood. The word “home” can mean heaven, but covertly means a free country, a haven for slaves. The Negro Spirituals “The Gospel Train” and “Swing Low, Sweet Chariot” actually refer to the Underground Railroad, which aided many slaves in finding freedom.

Founded in 1995, the American Spiritual Ensemble’s mission is to keep the American Negro Spiritual alive. The Spiritual Ensemble also has recorded four CDs and is featured in the 2007 PBS documentary “The Spirituals.” Members of the ensemble have sung in theaters and opera houses around the world, including the Metropolitan Opera, New York City Opera, Houston Grand Opera, and abroad in Italy, Germany, Britain, Scotland, Spain and Japan.

Don’t miss this exciting event! Tickets, priced at $15 for the matinée, and $25-$75 for the evening performance, are on sale now at the Box Office, by phone at (941) 328-1300, or online at http://www.sarasotaopera.org/.

Saturday, October 23, 2010

More rehearsal photos from La Cenerentola

Do you have your tickets yet?
Performances are October 29, November 2, 4, and 10 at 8 p.m.; October 31 and November 7 at 1:30 p.m.
Be prepared to laugh hard and fall in love again as our cast enchants you with this amusing, magical tale.
Tickets start at only $19. Call the box office at (941) 328-1300 or visit our website for yours.

La Cenerentola, Heather Johnson, and her mean
step-sisters, Abla Lynn Hamza (Clorinda)
and Melissa Treinkman (Tisbe).

Mean step-sisters must have ugly shoes!

Step-sisters, Clorinda and Tisbe, and their father Don Magnifico, played by Stefano de Peppo.

Friday, October 22, 2010

One week until we open!

We had fun with Cinderella (Heather Johnson) and Prince Ramiro (Hak Soo Kim) while doing some publicity shots in full make-up and costumes, thanks to our costume designer Howard Tsvi Kaplan and our Wigs and Make-up Designer Georgi Eberhard! Now we head into the final week of rehearsals, including two dress rehearsals - then opening night on October 29! You won't want to miss Rossini's La Cenerentola. Performances are Oct. 29, November 2, 4, and 10 at 8 p.m.; October 31 and November 7 at 7:30 p.m. Call (941) 366-8450, ext. 1 for tickets or order online.

Photos by Patricia G Horwell

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

The Art Whisperer visits the Opera House

Sarasota's Art Whisperer visited our Opera House recently and didn't interview the beautiful mezzo-soprano Heather Johnson. See for yourself!


Saturday, October 16, 2010

A sneak peek at rehearsal

Tenor Hak Soo Kim, as Prince Ramiro, surrounded by
cast members.
Step-father (Don Magnifico), played by bass-baritone Stefano de Peppo and Tisbe (nasty step-sister) played by mezzo-soprano Melissa Treinkman
Sarasota Opera artists are busy rehearsing for our upcoming production of Rossini's version of Cinderella, La Cenerentola!
There's a wonderful energy and chemistry among cast members - it's sure to be a fantastic and fun production!
Add the lavish costumes and beautiful scenery - and you have - OPERA.
We open October 29 - check out our web site  and get your tickets while they are still available. This opera is suitable for the entire family. We hope to see you there.
P.S. Keep checking this blog - more photos to come.

Cinderella and her prince

La Cenerentola (Cinderella) played by mezzo-soprano
Heather Johnson pleads with step-sisters Clorinda played
by soprano Abla Lynn Hamza and Tisbe

Step-sisters seek comfort from their father.
All photos by Patricia G Horwell

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Check out our own Jeff Ellis in this week's Sarasota Observer!

Jeff Ellis, our Director of Production, is featured in Backstage Pass in this week's edition of the Sarasota Observer. Here's the video (youtube) that was posted on the Observer's web site.


You can read a teaser for the story at: http://www.yourobserver.com/news/longboat-key/A-and-E/092920108154/Jeff-Ellis-on-the-set-of-The-Crucible-VIDEO

Pick up a copy of the paper for the rest!

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Construction of Crucible Set Continues

As the opening of La Cenerentola,this year's Fall Opera selection, approaches, set designers and builders are continuing construction of a completely new set for the premiere of Robert Ward's Pulitzer prize-winning opera, The Crucible. This Winter Festival production will feature the first set ever built 'in-house' by the Sarasota Opera technical team and marks the beginning of a new American Classics Series, designed to highlight some of America's greatest operatic contributions.

Recently, the work has been centered on the construction of the bedroom scene, which will be used in Act I, Scene 1 of the production. Yesterday morning, the team had nearly completed the bare construction of the set. By the afternoon, they had successfully completed and assembled the framework, quickly disassembling it to begin the painting process.

To the left is the image of the completed set. It is very much a work in progress, however this completed framework marks a major milestone in the construction process. 

On the right is another view of the completed bedroom structure. Although, the scenic material is now free-standing and physically complete, it must enter the decoration stage. In the photograph below, the individual components are spread across the floor of our very own William E. Schmidt Opera Theater, receiving their first coat of paint.

  Keep checking the blog for more photos and updates on the construction process!

Monday, September 27, 2010

Work continues on set for The Crucible

The crew at Sarasota Opera House continues work on building the set for our Winter Opera Festival presentation of Robert Ward's Pulitzer Prize winning opera, The Crucible, based on Arthur Miller's Tony Award winning play of the same name. The opera ushers in our ongoing American Classics Series, which will highlight great American works

Building a set is quite complicated. Here, the bedroom from Act 1, Scene 1 of this winter's production of The Crucible is nearly done. Once the "room" is completed (later today) it will be disassembled for painting!

Here, Jim Florek and Karle Murdock painting pieces of The Crucible set on the stage of the William E. Schmidt Opera Theater of the Sarasota Opera House. 

Thursday, September 23, 2010

The Building of the Set for The Crucible

For the first time ever, the crew at Sarasota Opera is building a set for a mainstage opera, in-house! It takes a lot of room and time as well as many crew members to build a set, says our Director of Production, Jeff Ellis. When completed, this will be the set used in our Winter Festival production of Robert Ward's Pulitzer prize winning opera, The Crucible, based on Arthur Miller's Tony Award winning play of the same name. Here, on-stage, our painters apply a finish to several pieces of the set.

Below, is the "bedroom" - the walls have been put together (soon to be taken down) in our shop just to make sure it all works. Visit this blog occasionally to follow our progress with the set. Crew will be working on it regularly until we open our Fall Opera, La Cenerentola, Oct. 29. We'll resume construction after the Fall Season closes Nov. 10. Check back for more photos!

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Get 'em while it's hot!

Because of the high demand for tickets to our Fall production of La Cenerentola (Cinderella) and our 2011 Winter Opera Festival, we have decided to open our online sales early.
However, if you choose to buy your tickets in person or by phone, you'll have to wait until September 1 for the Fall Season and October 1 for the Winter Festival.
Get a jump on your fellow opera lovers and get your tickets while they are still available!
Subscriptions are now available at the Box Office, 61 N. Pineapple Avenue, Sarasota, FL 34236 or call (941) 366-8450, ext. 1

For single tickets go to: www.SarasotaOpera.org

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Apprentice Artist Applications Due Soon!

A reminder to Sarasota Opera Apprentice Artist hopefuls: applications are due by August 15.

Sarasota Opera will hold the annual auditions for its Apprentice Artists Program this fall in Chicago on Sept. 11, Sarasota on Sept. 13, and NYC on Sept 16-19 with callbacks on Sept. 20

The program seeks singers who are serious about having careers as soloists in opera and desire further development in their craft. Singers will be able to apply through www.yaptracker.com, an online audition manager for young artists and emerging professionals. There is no membership fee to use this service.

Thursday, July 22, 2010

Come work for us!

Want to be part of our Development Team? Are you organized? Detail oriented? A people person? A team player? You could be our new Development Assistant.
The Development Assistant is responsible for all administrative aspects of Development Department, assisting with the fulfillment of donor benefits and the managements of the remaining administrative functions related to the Opera's most recent Capital Campaign. The Development Assistant plays an important role by providing administrative support to the Development Office and participating in all fundraising activities including donor identification, cultivation and stewardship, direct mail appeals, and special events. This is a full-time position. Candidate must be available to work after hours during the Opera Seasons.
For the full job description, requirements and application information, visit:

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Sarasota Opera Names New Marketing Director

Michael Chang has joined our staff as Director of Marketing and Public Relations. He comes to Sarasota from New York where he was managing director for MC Art Strategies, a consultancy for nonprofit visual and performing arts institutions.
Michael was executive director for Downtown Music at Grace, a community concert series in White Plains, New York. As Executive Secretary of the Board of Directors for Maverick Concerts, a summer chamber music festival in Woodstock, New York, he served as marketing and publicity chair. For the last five years, he has been an adjunct instructor in the Arts Administration Certificate Program for New York University SCPS. Among the courses he taught are music and concert administration, public relations for the visual and performing arts, and performing arts management.
“I’m so pleased and excited to be joining the team of professionals at Sarasota Opera, an organization that has been on my radar for many years as a performer, an educator, an arts administrator, and most importantly, as an unabashed lover of great opera performance,” Mr. Chang says. “Sarasota Opera is considered a precious gem in the world of opera and performing arts. I look forward to working closely with my colleagues, and, of course, meeting the Sarasota community of opera lovers. Sarasota used to be a frequent stop on my holiday itinerary; now it’s going to be my home. What more can anyone ask?”

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Are You Our Next Stage Management Intern?

Sarasota Opera has an opening for a Stage Management Intern for the 2011 Winter Festival Season. Applicants should have strong music skills and be available for the entire production period. Local housing is provided; a car is not required but strongly recommended. Contract dates are Jan. 5 - March 25 and includes productions of La boheme and I Lombardi.Sarasota Opera produces four operas in rotating rep; additional information about the company can be found at sarasotaopera.org. To apply, please send a resume and 3 references to Jeff Ellis, Director of Production, at prodjobs@sarasotaopera.org.

Friday, July 16, 2010

Victor DeRenzi is Guest Narrator at Baltimore Concert Opera

Artistic Director of Sarasota Opera, Victor DeRenzi, is making a guest appearance this weekend in Baltimore, Maryland. On Saturday, the Baltimore Concert Opera is presenting "The Verdi Baritone"as part of its special programming on one composer and one voice type. Since the Maestro is a renowned Verdi scholar, he was asked to narrate the concert. The baritone is also a Sarasota favorite - Jonathan Carle - who has sung principal roles here in Rigoletto, La rondine, Halka, La bohème, and Pagliacci. For those of you Verdi aficionados who might be in Baltimore this weekend, "The Verdi Baritone" will be performed at 12:30 p.m. Saturday in MICA's Brown Center.

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Bringing the Inside - Out!

The next time you're downtown, stop at our Box Office and take a look at our beautiful new window wraps, courtesy of the good folks at Sign Zoo. We've brought the inside out with some knock-out photos of the inside of our beautiful historic Opera House.
And while you're here, order your ticket subscription to the 2010-2011 season. The Box Office is in the Pavilion Building, which is adjacent to the Opera House at 61 N. Pineapple.

Friday, July 2, 2010

We've Cast Our Fall Opera - La Cenerentola

We've completed casting our Fall Opera production of Rossini’s La Cenerentola (La Chen-eh-ren-to-la) or Cinderella, which will run from October 29 – November 10. This comic masterpiece was last presented by Sarasota Opera in 1969 when it was staged at the Historic Asolo Theater. These are the opera’s first performances at the Sarasota Opera House.
Mezzo-soprano Heather Johnson sings the role of Angelina (Cinderella). A favorite at Sarasota Opera for her performances as Hansel in last season’s Hansel and Gretel and as Beppe in the 2009 production of Mascagni’s L’amico Fritz. In this role she leaves behind the trousers she wore portraying these male characters and dons a dress for her first female character with the company. Other recent performances were Mozart’s Coronation Mass at Carnegie Hall and the same composer’s Requiem at Kennedy Center. She has also sung in Gordon’s contemporary opera Acquanetta at the New York City Opera VOX series and Musto’s The Inspector at Wolf Trap. This summer she reprises the role of Hansel for PORT Opera in Maine. Future engagements include performances with Boston Lyric and the National Arts Center orchestra in Ottawa, Canada.
Hak Soo Kim, a tenor, makes his Sarasota Opera debut in the role of Prince Ramiro. He recently completed his second year residence as a Domingo-Thornton Young Artist at Los Angeles Opera. Other companies with which he has performed are Opera Colorado and Santa Fe Opera, as well as appearances with Chicago Symphony Orchestra, The Verdi Chorus (California), and the Monmouth Civic Chorus (New Jersey). Mr. Kim’s roles include creations by Rossini, Donizetti, and Verdi: Conte Almaviva in Il barbiere di Siviglia, Don Narciso in Il turcio in Italia, Nemorino in L’elisir d’amore, Ernesto in Don Pasquale, Alfredo in La traviata, and Fenton in Falstaff.
Baritone Sean Anderson returns for the role of Dandini, the valet who disguises himself as his master, Prince Ramiro. Last season he received wide audience and critical acclaim for his portrayal of Papageno in Die Zauberflöte. Among the accolades he received were from the Sarasota Herald Tribune, “…Papageno, brilliantly hammed up by baritone Sean Anderson.” Mr. Anderson has previously performed at Sarasota Opera in Cosi fan tutte and Die Fledermaus.
Italian native Stefano de Peppo, bass-baritone, made his Sarasota Opera debut in the fall 2008 production of Il barbiere di Siviglia as the pompous Doctor Bartolo. In La Cenerentola, Stefano sings the role of Don Magnifico, the cash-starved stepfather of Angelina. His recent credits include Leporello in Don Giovanni at Finnish National Opera, the title role of Don Giovanni with Mozart Festival Opera, and the title role in Don Pasquale at both Opera North Carolina and Miami Lyric Opera. Among the countries in which Stefano has performed are Italy, Mexico, Spain, Colombia, Israel, Great Britain, Canada, and the Czech Republic.
Benjamin Gelfand, bass-baritone, makes his debut as a Sarasota Opera Principal Artist singing the role of wise tutor Alidoro. He has previously been an Apprentice Artist in 2006 and a Studio Artist in 2008, 2009, and 2010. A recipient of Sarasota Opera Guild's Leo M. Rogers Award and Bradenton Opera Guild's Helen Jepson Dellera Fellowship Award for a deserving Studio Artist, Ben last season performed the roles of Doctor Grenvil in La traviata and Talbot in Giovanna d'Arco. Since the conclusion of the 2010 season, he has performed in concert with the Evelyn Lear/Thomas Stewart Emerging Singers Program at the German Embassy in Washington, D.C. In addition, he won third place at the Gerda Lissner Foundation Competition in the Wagner division and performed at its winners concert at Carnegie Hall.
Director is Stephanie Sundine, who last season directed Cavalleria rusticana/Pagliacci and was stage director for the Apprentice Artists. In the past she has also directed Tosca, Rigoletto, and Madama Butterfly for Sarasota Opera.
Sarasota Opera Artistic Director Victor DeRenzi will conduct the Sarasota Orchestra. This is the third year the two organizations have collaborated on a fall Sarasota Opera production.
Tickets for La Cenerentola are now available as part of a five-opera subscription package. Single tickets will go on sale in August.

Saturday, June 26, 2010

Calling All Apprentice Artist Hopefuls!

Sarasota Opera will hold the annual auditions for its Apprentice Artists Program this fall at the following locations:
∙ Chicago, September 11 – Nicholas Concert Hall at the Music Institute of Chicago
∙ Sarasota, September 13 – Felding Recital Hall at the Sarasota Opera House
∙ New York City, September 16-19, with callbacks on September 20 – venue to be determined.
The program seeks singers who are serious about having careers as soloists in opera and desire further development in their craft. Applicants must exhibit career potential. The deadline for submission of applications is August 15, 2010.
Singers will be able to apply through www.yaptracker.com, an online audition manager for young artists and emerging professionals. There is no membership fee to use this service.
Our program is recognized as one of the finest in the country. Apprentice Artists will arrive in Sarasota on January 4, with the contract running from January 5 through March 25, 2011. Departure from Sarasota will be March 26. Applicants must be available to participate the entire time. Apprentices will receive $400 per week, housing, and roundtrip airfare to/from Sarasota. Apprentices perform in the chorus for Puccini’s La bohème and Mozart’s Don Giovanni, Verdi’s I Lombardi, and Ward's The Crucible. In addition to participating in the mainstage chorus, Apprentice Artists perform in concerts and outreach programs and receive music, dramatic, and language coachings. They may also have the opportunity to sing comprimario and to cover secondary roles in the mainstage operas. The program culminates with an Apprentice Artist Concert onstage in the Opera House.
Greg Trupiano, Artistic Administrator of Sarasota Opera, is available to answer questions about the program. He can be contacted by e-mail at gtrupiano@sarasotaopera.org or by telephone at (941) 366-8450, ext. 420.

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Sarasota Opera Board Member Performs

Sarasota Opera board member (and singer) Josh Benaim had a huge success singing the lead baritone role in a concert performance of Wolf-Ferrari's The Jewels of the Madonna Monday night at Lincoln Center.
The audience went crazy for him! And there was plenty of buzz about his performance during the intermissions. Next year, he will also be performing/covering the role of Marullo in 15 performances of Rigoletto at the Met. We are excited!

Monday, May 17, 2010

Sarasota Opera House Receives Florida Trust for Historic Preservation Award

Sarasota Opera has received The Florida Trust for Historic Preservation Award at the 32nd Annual Statewide Preservation Conference in Ft. Myers. The Opera was recognized for Outstanding Achievement in the Field of Restoration/Rehabilitation for its $20-million renovation of the 1926 historic Opera House in 2008.
The application process was lengthy. Sarasota Opera was required to submit five letters of support from community members and groups, photos depicting the scope of the work that was done, as well as a two-page statement describing the motivation for the project, obstacles and challenges met, community involvement, project budget, and the site plan/description of the project.
In his letter, County Commissioner Joseph Barbetta called Sarasota Opera and its programs and facilities “cornerstones of the cultural life of the community,” while Don Smally, President of the Board of the Sarasota Alliance for Historic Preservation, referred to the project as “an outstanding renovation.”
Sarasota Opera Executive Director Susan T. Danis praised those who participated in the project. “It is an honor indeed for the Florida Trust for Historic Preservation to award our beloved opera house its 2010 award for Outstanding Achievement in Rehabilitation and Restoration,” she said. “This project was truly a labor of love for so many and it certainly would not have been accomplished without the generosity of our opera patrons and the commitment of the Opera Board of Trustees, its Building Committee and Staff and the incredible group of architects, contractors, engineers and artisans that were assembled to make the renovation a reality.”
Preservation architect Killis Almond, who led the project, traveled to Ft. Myers to join staff members attending the award ceremony. “Recognition by the Florida Trust for Historic Preservation is extremely gratifying,” he said. “To a preservationist like myself, I consider it the highest honor.”
The award was presented May 14 at ceremonies held at the Edison Park Elementary School in Ft. Myers and was followed by a reception at the Edison & Ford Winter Estates.

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Your opera subscription could be free

All subscription orders placed by May 1 will be automatically entered in a free drawing. The winner will get up to two subscriptions for free! Call (941) 366-8450, ext. 1 or visit the box office to place your order now. Subscription information (including a downloadable order form) can be found on our website at www.sarasotaopera.org.

Monday, January 25, 2010

Opening Night is Less than Two Weeks Away!

Our Company has been busy rehearsing for the February 6 Opening Night performances of Cavalleria rusticana/Pagliacci by Mascagni and Leoncavallo respectively. Here is a preview of our principal singers in full costume and makeup. Performances run through March 21. Tickets are still available at the Box Office or online at www.sarasotaopera.org.

Cavalleria rusticana: Michael Corvino as Alfio, left, with Kara Shay Thomson as Santuzza

Cavalleria rusticana: Kara Shay Thomson as Santuzza.

Finally in Pagliacci: Gustavo Lòpez Manzitti as Canio. left, and Aundi Marie Moore as Nedda.

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Were You There?

Were you part of the 800 people of all ages who came out Sunday, January 17 for the free Open House at Sarasota Opera House? There were several performances, backstage tours, wig, makeup, and costume displays, food from area restaurants, ticket giveaways, special ticket deals - even activities for the youngsters. Hope you had a great time. We certainly did!

Sunday, January 17, 2010

Marco Nisticò in the NY Times

Sarasota Opera favorite Marco Nisticò is featured in the NY Times Arts & Leisure section today.

The article talks about his upcoming performances in Haydn's Il mondo della luna. In speculating who will deliver a star turn during the production the author says that "Marco Nisticò, the Buonafede, delivered a winning comic turn in the title role of Rossini’s “Signor Bruschino” with Gotham in 2007."

Sarasota Opera audiences certainly are aware of his ability to dominate the stage. He has performed roles as diverse as the aged Francesco Foscari in Verdi's I due Foscari, Rossini's ebullient Figaro in The Barber of Seville, the idealistic Rodrigue in Verdi's Don Carlos, and the stoic Germont in La traviata on our stage.

Marco Nisticò returns to Sarasota Opera in March as Joan of Arc's father Giacomo in Verdi's Giovanna d'Arco. There are six performances through March 20 and tickets are going quickly.

Thursday, January 14, 2010

We are busy getting ready for season!

Soprano Lindsay Ohse, who will play the Queen of the Night in The Magic Flute, is being fitted by Costume Designer Howard Tsvi Kaplan and staff. Fittings are currently taking place nonstop in our busy Costume Shop. It won't be long now. Our Winter Festival season opens on February 6 with Cavalleria rusticana and Pagliacci. Other offerings this season are The Magic Flute, Hansel and Gretel, and Giovanna d'Arco (Joan of Arc).

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

The Singers Are Back

With less than a month before Opening Night, Sarasota Opera House is abuzz with activity. Apprentice and Studio Artists as well as the cast of Cavalleria rusticana and Pagliacci recently arrived in Sarasota. We celebrated their arrival with a Welcome Buffet, complete with delicious food provided and served by members of the Sarasota Opera Guild and a welcome cake! Currently, everyone is busy rehearsing. The season opens February 6, with the performance at 5 p.m., followed by the elegant Gala dinner/dance in a grand tent behind the Opera House.

Friday, January 8, 2010

Join the Fun at Open House on January 17!

Bring the family and join the fun at our Winter Open House set for Sunday, January 17, from 1:30-3 p.m.
There will be something for everyone:
· Listen to opera, operetta, and musical theater selections, performed throughout the building and in the courtyard by artists from Sarasota Opera’s Winter Opera Festival and by the Youth Opera choruses.
· Meet the Director - Stephanie Sundine, director of Sarasota Opera’s productions of Cavalleria rusticana/Pagliacci will be on hand to talk about the upcoming production.
· Make-up demos and Costume displays - Wig and makeup designer Georgianna Eberhard and resident costume designer Howard Tsvi Kaplan will host demonstrations of their art.
· Children's activities in our Youth Opera Room
· Backstage tours
· Free refreshments - food from some of our local restaurants
· Free giveaways - special tickets offers - and a free gift to all attendees while they last!
Don't miss it! Sarasota Opera House is at 61 N. Pineapple Ave., downtown Sarasota.